Through the Loomba Foundation’s work educating widows’ children, it became clear that deepening the focus of support to developing cash income generating livelihoods constituted a critical foundation for the current and future welfare of widows and their families. It is the only way to provide a lasting solution to each widow’s problem – being trapped by poverty, often, extreme poverty, where basic needs are not met. Poverty is not simply a lack of physical items – food, healthcare, household items….. it is a dynamic process that puts people into conditions with extreme physical and psychological risks, that if realised, are capable of ensuring a tipping point after which there is no recovery.
A young widow and her children who are supported in India by the Loomba Foundation.
Global Work with other Partners
The Loomba Foundation therefore began working with other NGO partners on livelihood programmes in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The livelihoods model the Foundation used was to provide the means for widows to start small businesses, which comprised skills training in a trade followed by business management skills and then provision of micro-credit loans and grants. Funding was provided by the Loomba Foundation to Youth Business International to provide business start up training and loans for projects to help widows in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Syria and South Africa. The project ran from 2007-11. Additionally, in Kenya, the Loomba Foundation provided funding for the NGO, Solar Aid, to set up widows in business selling solar powered chargers, this had the added impact of improving health through a reduction in the use of polluting fossil fuels. The project ran in Kibera, a slum in Nairobi. In Rwanda, in 2010-11, the Loomba Foundation worked with Oxfam GB on an agriculture project to support widows, some of whom had lost their husbands during the 1994 genocide, to become pineapple and dairy farmers.
Loomba Foundation-Oxfam GB project for genocide widows in Rwanda, 2011
Lessons Learnt and Empowering 10,000 Widows
What the Loomba Foundation learnt from this work was that providing widowed women with the economic means for independently supporting themselves succeeds in addressing several areas of widows’ needs: reducing and eliminating poverty – often extreme poverty of less than a dollar a day, providing for children’s education, and empowerment – giving widows’ social space by allowing them independent action that transforms their relationship with members of their own community and the society at large. They discover dignity and agency – self respect and the ability to act to acquire and maintain their rights. This experience led to the Loomba Foundation designing and launching its own widows empowerment programme in India in 2012 with the target of reaching 10,000 widows in five states. This project will be beneficial to many tens of thousands of children of widows when their mothers are able to provide the family with income, through obtaining an education and from access to healthcare, and by reducing the likelihood that children will have to enter the labour market.
A beneficiary working on the sewing machine donated by the Loomba Foundation
More recently the Loomba Foundation has been busy rolling out sewing machine programs to help widows and is close to reaching the target of 10,000 widows. In 2014 we launched a program with the State of Punjab to help 5,000 widows. Other programs launched include Dehli, Puducherry, Patna and Andhra Pradesh.
Helping us to Empower Widows
We rely on partners and donors to fund these projects. We also guarantee that your donation in full will go towards our projects. To change a widow’s life please make a donation.